OUR FIRST LIFE SAVED
One of our participants, Linda, has recently become, as far as we know, the first to save someone’s life using techniques learned on the course she attended.
Here is the story (names have been changed):
Wednesday 5th August was a hot day and Arthur, a fit, slim man in his early 70s, had gone from playing tennis to join his wife, Pauline, at their allotment. He had left her to take some produce back to his car when Pauline was shouted to by someone to say Arthur had collapsed just outside the allotment gates. She rushed over to him and, finding that he was conscious but rather unwell, assumed that he was dehydrated since he had not drunk any fluids since playing tennis. Pauline immediately drove Arthur home by which time he had become cold, clammy and was sweating profusely.
After giving Arthur water to drink Pauline phoned her friend, Linda, for any advice she might be able to give her, still assuming that Arthur was suffering from dehydration. During this phone call Arthur became doubled-up with severe pain and was clutching his chest. Linda said that this sounded like Arthur was having a heart attack and told Pauline to call 999. Linda then jumped in her car and drove the 2.5 miles to the couple’s house.
When Linda arrived she found that Arthur was now unconscious and cyanosed (turning blue) with agonal breathing (gasping irregularly) which are sure signs of a CARDIAC ARREST. Pauline was on the phone to the ambulance call centre who were advising her to start chest compressions but in her state of shock she was struggling to deal with the awful situation facing her. Linda, with her knowledge of CPR and remembered instructions to always ‘have a go’ took control of the situation and got Arthur on to his back and began compressions-only CPR, guided by the call centre who kept her pressing, HARD and FAST, at the correct rate.
Linda thinks it was about 10 minutes later that the ambulance arrived and took over the resuscitation procedure which included using a defibrillator.
The good news is that Arthur survived. He was taken to Heartlands Hospital where had a stent inserted into one of his coronary arteries and, after a few days was discharged home and is now well on the way to recovery.
What can we learn from this? We teach our Basic Life Support skills in the hope that they are something you will never have to use but, as shown above, they are absolutely invaluable should you ever need to call on them. Linda contacted me to tell me about this story and she should feel very proud of herself that she has actually saved a life. She was, understandably, pretty nervous when she found Arthur in the state that he was in but had the gumption to ‘get stuck in’. That was the first hurdle that has to overcome by someone at such a scene and it’s very understandable that a spouse/partner could be struggling at this stage (See our team member, Paula’s, story for an example of this). Having experienced some sort of training beforehand is invaluable.
Without Linda’s intervention it’s very unlikely that Arthur would have survived. Try as they might it’s not often that an ambulance crew can arrive in time to save the patient who hasn’t received CPR from a bystander. Once the heart stops pumping blood to the brain the chances of survival drop by 10% with every minute that passes. To come through this fully intact the victim needs those chest compressions within just a very few minutes.
I have now also spoken to Arthur’s wife, Pauline. Typical of loved ones of survivors she is going through more emotional turmoil than Arthur is, at the moment. We survivors have no memory of the events that have nearly taken our lives but those around us will have to face a lifetime of vivid recollections of this traumatic time. I can thoroughly recommend, as I have to Pauline, that anyone facing this situation as a relative or survivor visits Paul Swindell’s website, www.suddencardiacarrestuk.org which provides a wealth of information and support for all parties involved in these circumstances.
In these days of the COVID19 pandemic giving rescue breaths may not always be an option that one would want to pursue, but don’t underestimate the power of chest compressions alone. See of Pint of Life’s Chris Tancock demonstrating the current guidelines on CPR during the pandemic: how to perform CPR during the current COVID-19 pandemic
Right now we have no idea of when we’ll be able to resume our training sessions but, unfortunately, heart attacks, cardiac arrests and choking are still happening. Please be alert and don’t be afraid to ‘Have A Go’ should the need arise. If you need a reminder of the procedures to follow have a look at this video: Video By Hollie Harrington and please share it with others.
Thank you reading this and being part of our life-saving community.